Why do some students take one or two Alexander Technique lessons and then quit even though they – and others – have noticed major benefits?

In a podcast, veteran teacher Robert Rickover says to fellow teacher Mark Josefsberg: “One answer is that the student got what he needed, so why come back for more lessons? I’ve had students who had a specific issue that was bothering them and it was quickly sorted out with some basic Alexander work and often within a few minutes.”

Mark: “Most of the time, students that make dramatic changes return but there’s a percentage who don’t.”

Robert: “When we help people to change their patterns and we do it by engaging their thinking and observation skills about themselves, they are forced to confront something that might not be comfortable — that to some extent, they were responsible for their previous issues (pain or discomfort). For some people, it is not pleasant to confront that. I tell my students that they are responsible for themselves. There is a wonderful quote in the old comic strip Pogo — ‘We have met the enemy and they is us!’ You could look at that as good news or bad news. It could be bad news in that you have to own up that at some level you were responsible. On the other hand, it also tells you that you have the power to change it. There are some people for whom that responsibility is scary and they just may leave for that reason.”

Mark: “I came into the Alexander Technique for extreme neck pain and when my teacher told me I was responsible, it was incredibly empowering, uplifting, and powerful. Because finally it said I could do something about this and that felt great to me.”

Robert: “Alexander work does ask people to see things about themselves more clearly and some of those things, they may not be too crazy about.”

“I’ve had students who’ve come with specific conditions that have names and they’ve been diagnosed and they are sometimes active members of support groups for those conditions and I’ve had examples where the condition changed dramatically and quickly with some Alexander work and the student comes back for a second lesson but the thing they came for has faded out and they don’t want to talk about it much any more. It could be because it undermines their identity in that group.”

“Your identity or your social network is disrupted if you no longer have symptoms that that network is based on.”

“It doesn’t have to be a social network of other people with that condition, it could be a social network such as a marriage where part of that relationship has shifted to one spouse looking after the other because of their condition. If that condition changes for the better, then there is some rearrangement that has to go on in that relationship.”

“Another reason is that though student has great results, there is something about you, the teacher, that they can’t stand.”

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